Bry Reed, 20
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Bry Reed is currently a junior in college in North Carolina. As a former student in the Baltimore Public School system, she learned the necessity of asking questions and practicing tenacity. Empowered by the writing of Zora Neale Hurston and Lena Horne and the example of Horne utilizing her privileges and visibility to advocate for lynching reform, Reed’s conversational writing explores pop culture and the sociological theories that founded it. She struggles to find her voice in a world that mostly silences and erases Black womanhood. As a child raised by a single mother attending a university that doesn't reflect her underprivileged background or her family's income, Reed's status is constantly challenged. She is driven by the need to undo the homogenization of womanhood and to amplify the voices of Black girls worldwide.
Reed is passionate about dismantling the prison system and its resulting culture. She notes that carceral punishment thrives on the oppression of marginalized groups and its systemic reach must be abolished.
Pay Black Women: A Conversation About Equity
By Bry Reed
As Black Panther delivers groundbreaking numbers at the box office for the second week, audiences are amazed by the storyline, action, and character development surrounding the women of Wakanda. The hit Marvel film showcases the talent, dedication, and versatility of black women actors. Yet, some are still skeptical that this film will have long lasting effect on an industry, and a world, that routinely undervalues the talent and time of black womanhood.
Paying black women for time and talent should be non-negotiable. Yet, the numbers showcase the disparity between rhetoric, action, and funds. As Twitter—and other social media platforms—create moments of support and empowerment, black women continue to combat the realities of wealth inequality and wage gap. These struggles are not mere hardships, but results of compounded marginalization.
The lives of black women are nuanced by the reality of compounded marginalization. Not only are black women racialized, but we are also subjected to gender inequality. Now, racism and patriarchy are not the only oppressions that impact black women. The possibilities for nuances in black womanhood are endless—because experiences are endless. Class and sexuality are examples of a few layers of marginalization which impact the experiences of black women.
Since 2008, there has been a push for diversity and inclusivity initiatives. One core portion of these initiatives for diversity and inclusion attempt to target marginalization on college campuses and corporate offices. Fortune 500 companies and top ranked USA Today institutions are constantly hiring new talent to navigate the waters of diversity, inclusion, and all the pitfalls in between.
Despite positive intentions, however, these initiatives can also be spaces for inequality. How? The double duty dilemma: the doubling down of marginalization and revolution. Consider which groups of people are routinely doing the organizing, facilitating, and policy work to dismantle inequality—the marginalized groups themselves. More specifically, black women and queer folk—and the people who occupy both spaces—are routinely doing the heavy lifting surrounding equity and opportunity for marginalized groups. Thus, marginalized people such as people of color, women, queer folk, and differently abled bodies are facing discrimination and simultaneously tapped as the leaders of their revolutions.
Marginalization of oppressed groups cannot be combated by the oppressed, alone. Dismantling systems that have existed for centuries will take time, planning, and a lot of work. But I believe it can be done. One key step in revolutionary change is revolutionary partnership. Black women should not and must not be expected to overcome our inequalities by ourselves. Others must join the cause. Allies in positions of social and economic capital must challenge the oppressive status quo and demand more. Change must come in the form of legislation, funding, access, and opportunity.
In a world overrun by late capitalism, labor is never free. The expectation for women of color, and black women specifically, to survive on accolades, experience, and volunteerism alone is criminal. It is not enough to applaud the work of black women on screen in films like Black Panther. If you applaud black women, support black women, or expect labor from black women then be prepared to pay for our time and talent.